A Golden Age for Christian Colleges?

Are Christian colleges uniquely positioned to revitalize our nation’s intellectual life and contribute to cultural bridge-building in this era of political and social polarization? If you ask Christian scholars, this would seem to be the case. In Inside Higher Ed, Tal Howard argues that America’s Christian colleges and universities “are now well positioned to save [Read More…]

Still Searching for Christian America

“At times of crisis it is a natural human reaction to turn to the past for support.”[1] These words were written by evangelicals, to evangelicals. In 1983. Wait—1983? But Ronald Reagan was president at the time. What could possibly have been the source of evangelical angst back then? In fact, the causes were many. The [Read More…]

How Donald Trump Is Prompting a Debate about the Practice of History

Should historians be taking sides in the 2016 election? Does our discipline give us any special insight into a candidacy like Donald Trump’s? [Read more…]

The Bible: Mass Distribution and Massive Ignorance?

Over at the Weekly Standard I reviewed John Fea’s excellent new history of the American Bible Society (ABS). At the end of the review, I reflected on the dilemma of mass Bible ownership versus declining Bible “engagement.” As the ABS observes its 200th birthday, it has become more clearly aligned with a broadly defined evangelicalism than [Read More…]

Re-envisioning Our Public: The Conference on Faith and History 2014

For decades, committed evangelicals such as Richard Pierard, Robert Linder, George Marsden, Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch and others worked towards two different goals aimed at two different audiences.  First, to an evangelical constituency in which fundamentalism’s suspicion of the academy lingered, they cultivated the idea of history as a legitimate Christian vocation.  Second, building on [Read More…]

Scripture as Usable History

The Bicentennial Bible (1975) and the American Patriot’s Bible (2009) tie scripture closely to right-wing politics. The marginal notes feature quotations from Dick Cheney and other conservative activists on the subjects of liberty and the efficacy of public school prayer and free-markets. The Bicentennial Bible declares that Scripture is “America’s Book from Almighty God.” These [Read More…]

Five American Religious History Books Every Evangelical Minister Should Read

Traditionally, summer is the time for reading lists.  In honor of that tradition, I present the following post. Among Anxious Bench authors, I am a bit of an anomaly.  My colleagues on the blog–Agnes Howard, Tal Howard, Thomas Kidd, Philip Jenkins, David Swartz, and John Turner–all hold positions in history departments.  I teach in a [Read More…]

Why Study History

As the Civil War ground to an end in early 1865, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address. It was a gracious meditation. He noted that both the North and South read the same Bible and prayed to the same God. Invoking the mystery of God’s ways, he declared, “The prayers of both could [Read More…]

What is “Christian History”?

Over at Religion in American History, Mark Edwards has opened a fascinating discussion about the state of Christian history, with particular attention to John Fea et. al.’s Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation. Edwards says The book is a collaborative effort by several members and fellow travelers of the Conference on Faith [Read More…]

David Barton, Louis L’Amour, and the Use of Historical Evidence

NOTE:  A shorter version of this post appeared yesterday at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. The rumors are true.  David Barton’s story about children with guns in a 19th century classroom came directly from Bendigo Shafter, a Louis L’Amour novel. Readers of my blog The Way of Improvement Leads Home will recall a post [Read More…]